Are you a member of a book club?
I joined a book club just over a year ago and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve read authors such as Marcus Clay, Alka Joshi, Tara June Winch and Amor Towles amongst others. Most times we discuss pre-set book club questions or make up some of our own. Most often though, we talk about the book in general terms intermingled with catching up on our lives and the latest news.
As a debut author I have a new appreciation for the authors who write their own book club questions.
My book, ‘The Sentinel’ is being featured in its very first book club this Thursday.
Not only will I personally meet people who’ve read my book and are going to discuss it (they’re pretty excited so that’s cool) but they are going to use the questions I wrote.
It was harder than I thought to come up with questions that were engaging and captured the essence of the book.
I had to revisit the themes I hoped to portray in the novel as well as think through what might interest readers new to the book.
I chose a combination of questions. Some were character based, some focused on the location and others on the themes.
Only time will tell if there were others I could have asked!
Below I’ve listed the 10 questions so if you need to write your own, hopefully these might help you.
Until next time,
- Kathleen’s letter to her father is featured throughout the novel. Let’s talk about the letter as a device to tell the story. What do you think it reveals about Kathleen and her Papa’s relationship?
- The historical context of the novel is 1880s Victoria, Australia. What did you learn about life in this time? What did you learn about life on a lighthouse station?
- The landscape is an ever-present force. Let’s talk about that, and the devastating isolation in which these people live
- Mr Johannsson is steely in his dedication to duty. Let’s discuss the rigidity required to run a lighthouse station.
- The idea for the novel came from a trip the author took to the Wilson’s Promontory lighthouse on the southern coast of mainland Australia. Have you been there? How well is the landscape realised in the novel? Are you tempted to explore this area more?
- What do you think about the relationship between Mr Johannsson and Isabella? Let’s discuss the unlikely friendship at the heart of the story.
- Themes of class and poverty thread their way through the novel. Comment on the choices the characters have to live their lives, given the confines of their class.
- Women’s friendships also feature in the novel. The convention of lighthouse life was that the women did not call on each other casually. Let’s chat about how hard this made it for the women who inhabited these lonely stations.
- Faith is central to Mr and Mrs Johannsson’s worldviews and informs their sense of duty, but this creates tension amongst the keepers and their families. Let’s discuss this.
- Do we ever really know someone? Let’s discuss the secrets that each of these characters keeps.